Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Oct. 4, 2006

AFTER A SEVERAL-YEAR ABSENCE, NORTHWEST retail and opaque fares are once again available through Priceline.com and its LowestFare.com unit. Northwest and Priceline announced Oct. 3 that they entered into a new distribution agreement, paving the way for the airline's return to Priceline. Northwest exited Priceline's name-your-own price business in May 2002, complaining that Priceline changed its business model when it began experimenting with selling retail and branded airline tickets. And Northwest exited Priceline and LowestFare.com in November 2004, with the airline citing the high distribution costs, including the GDS fees associated with selling tickets through Priceline. This week, Al Lenza, Northwest's vice president of distribution and e-commerce, stated that "Priceline.com has developed a supplier-friendly structure and offers marketing opportunities that meet our needs and allows us to broaden the online base of travelers we serve." Asked to clarify what "supplier-friendly structure" means, Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski said "Priceline.com has provided Northwest with competitive distribution economics."

SIDESTEP has rolled out a U.K. Web site and also introduced its downloadable comparison-shopping toolbar in the U.K. and Ireland markets. There was a bit of a glitch with the domain name, however, as typing www.sidestep.co.uk brings users to TravelSupermarket.com, a comparison shopping site unaffiliated with SideStep. The correct url for the U.K./Ireland site is http://uk.sidestep.com. (To help things along, when users in the U.K. type www.sidestep.com into their browser, they're taken to the SideStep site at http://uk.sidestep.com.) Consumers can use the search engine to look for air, car, hotel, package and activities inventory. SideStep strikes marketing deals with suppliers and online agencies and transfers users to third-party Web sites for booking. In addition to conducting searches on the Web site, users can download the SideStep toolbar, which opens in a separate window when they perform travel searches on popular online agency sites. SideStep then offers a comparable deal from its partners. SideStep said the U.K. Web site provides access to deals from 600 airlines, 125,000 hotels and 30,000 car rental facilities.

AGENTWARE, which provides travel agencies with search and booking functionality for non-GDS content, began offering agencies VIA Rail Canada inventory through AgentWare's Trip Console offering. The companies said the booking functionality will enable corporations to retain access to Canada's national passenger train service, including its inter-city rail schedules, as VIA Rail Canada "withdraws its inventory from the GDS in the coming months." Steve Del Bosco, VIA Rail's chief customer officer, stated that "VIA Rail is on track towards implementation of a new Web-based distribution platform for travel agencies, brokers and corporate customers."

HYATT AND OPENJAW TECHNOLOGIES have partnered to enable Hyatt customers around the world to book any Hyatt property using their choice among 17 languages. Hyatt will do so using OpenJaw's xRez offering, which is an XML-based online reservations platform. To implement the agreement, OpenJaw partnered with Translations.com, which translates the room type and rate plan information into the multiple languages on the Hyatt booking site. OpenJaw is hosting and operating the site from its headquarters in Dublin.

ADELMAN TRAVEL GROUP, the Wisconsin-headquartered travel management firm, has introduced a proprietary, Web-based product, the Automated Pre-Trip (APT) Approval System, which enables travel managers to review employees travel itineraries prior to automated ticketing, the company said. The travel manager can then key in on travelers' violations of corporate travel policy or lost savings on air, car and hotel bookings. APT works in tandem with both bookings through Adelman's full-service agency or through online booking tools used by Adelman clients.

Technology Editor:

Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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